Family Time, Minus the Screen

Think about an average day for your family — how many hours do you and your family members spend in front of screens? If you’re anything like me, doing the math might yield a surprisingly high number of hours. Thinking about using the computer for work, using a phone for communication and social media, using television for entertainment and video games, you start to realize how much screen time is built into our lives. Especially right now, as many kids are attending school virtually and spending several hours in front of a computer. In recent years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has developed recommendations for limiting screen time for children of different ages. You can check out this previous post for more information. 

It can be hard to change the routines we have, but if you want to start reducing screen time for your family, check out these ideas! They might help you and your family find fun ways to spend time together away from a screen. 

Photo by Migs Reyes on
  • Idea #1: Get Cooking! 
    • Cooking dinner as a family is beneficial in more ways than one. Meals cooked at home are often healthier than those bought pre-made or ordered from a restaurant. Also, family dinners are a great time to encourage family communication. So get creative with family dinner. Consider finding a family recipe and teaching it to your kids. Or, go online and find a new recipe that sounds interesting! Maybe even go to your local library and check out a cookbook for some inspiration. If you think you might need to make things more interesting to get the family on board, consider turning it into a game! You could set it up like Chopped and give each family member a strange ingredient to attempt to use in a dish. My family did this on vacation a couple of years ago, and it was so much fun!
  • Idea #2: Family Game Night
    • Card games, board games, charades, there are so many great game night options. You can select board games that are appropriate for the interests and ages of your family members. You might even be able to rotate which family member gets to pick the game so that everyone gets a night to play their favorite. And if you don’t want to buy board games and packs of cards, there are games you can play with just paper and pencil! For example, this telephone Pictionary game is a big hit in my family. 
  • Idea #3: Movement Game
    • Go old school with hide-and-seek or do some searching and find something new! These games have the added benefit of incorporating movement as well. While temperatures are cold, you may want to stay inside and play a game like Sardines (although it works outside too). If your family is willing to brave the cold, go outside for tag or get creative and come up with a scavenger hunt for your neighborhood! Anything you think your family will enjoy. 
Photo by Allan Mas on

Screens can be engaging and fun, so the goal isn’t to eliminate them completely. And if you are like me and currently enjoy quite a bit of screen time, cutting it back quickly might make for an unhappy home. Instead, consider starting by setting aside an hour or two once a week to designate as screen-free time. Then, see where things go from there! If you think of any creative screen free activities, feel free to share them in the comments for another family to enjoy. Most importantly, have fun!  

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